Sewer failures in Florida can be solved with P3s
The headline says it all: “Sewer crisis in the state of Florida”. The article published in multiple newspapers in the state details the scope, cost and implications of the widespread problem of utility failures.
“During the past decade, deteriorating sewers have released 1.6 billion gallons of wastewater, much of it polluting the state’s estuaries and oceans, according to a GateHouse Media analysis of state environmental data,” the article states. “More than 370 million gallons of that was completely untreated.”
Florida’s sewers failed nearly 23,000 times over the past 10 years, according to the article, which is based on extensive research. Rotting sewer systems and polluted waterways threaten the state’s irreplaceable resource, the environment, and its economic future.
A SOLUTION: PUBLIC-PRIVATE PARTNERSHIP (P3)
As the article states, it could require hundreds of billions of dollars to bring the state’s older infrastructure including sewer systems up to modern standards. One solution for a local utility is a private-public partnership, also known as a P3.
In this arrangement, a private entity makes the needed improvements in return for future income from taxes and fees. Local government retains ownership of the system, giving it control over policy and other matters. In some cases, the private company also operates the utility, such as a sewer system.
This arrangement helps local governments and solve two immediate problems: funding and compliance. In coordination with public agencies, the P3 secures funding from public and private sources, earning back its investment over time. Immediate action can relieve local governments of threats of fines and growth restrictions.
Further, if the local government outsources its sewer system, it could save 15% to 30% in operating costs, according to a Wharton article.
LSF Partners represented a winning bid to manage a P3 project for Miami-Dade County’s $12 billion, 15-year capital improvement program to rebuild its clean water pipes and sewers. One expected outcome: a halt to ocean dumping of treated water.
There’s an immediate environmental need and a possible financial penalty for not taking action. A state senator has sponsored legislation that would fine utilities up to $2 per gallon of sewage spilled.
To read the entire article, go here.